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The Action Thread Part Two

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Even flat tyres couldn't stop our group of hard-working volunteers from making sure that vital humanitarian aid reaches those in need this Easter!

We would like to wish a very happy Easter to team who are en-route to Belarus with life-saving aid for children and families who have been worst affected by Chernobyl. They have selflessly given up Easter with their families and loved ones to undertake this very important work.

It is so greatly appreciated and we know that your presence will mean the world to those in greatest need.

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La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, personas de pie, cielo y exterior

La imagen puede contener: automóvil y exterior

 

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Christine is breaking sexual violence stigma in Sudan
1
GIRLS AND WOMEN

Christine is breaking sexual violence stigma in Sudan

26 March 2019 5:41PM UTC | By: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

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Children born of rape in South Sudan’s civil war must be integrated into their families and communities to ensure lasting peace in the country, aid worker Christine Ngbaazande said on Monday as she won a prestigious award.

Sometimes looked on as enemies, such children are often rejected not only by their communities but also by their mothers, said Ngbaazande, who works for global charity World Vision.

Ostracised, they grow up with few options, leaving them vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups which perpetuates the violence, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Yambio in the south of the country.

Ngbaazande was named winner of the Bond Humanitarian Award, which recognises hidden “superheroes” working in often dangerous environments.

Rape has been used as a weapon of war in South Sudan, where conflict has killed about 400,000 people and uprooted millions more since flaring up in 2013, two years after the country gained independence from Sudan.

Ngbaazande, a 41-year-old mother-of-three, works with faith, community and youth leaders, as well as women’s groups, to counter the stigma faced by children born of rape.

“The girls cannot accept these children, and family members are not interested in supporting them,” she said.

“But these children are God’s children … and they are the future generation of the country.”

One of the girls she has helped is a 13-year-old who was raped by armed men after becoming separated from her parents during violence. After giving birth, she left her baby at a church.

“After a lot of counselling she has accepted the child. She has a nice relationship now with him,” Ngbaazande said.

Changing attitudes is hard

“It’s not easy to change mindsets – especially with men. It’s not easy for them to accept what a woman is saying,” said Ngbaazande, who, unusually for a woman, zips around Yambio on a motorbike.

She recalled one case where a father forced his 14-year-old daughter to marry a 65-year-old man, threatening to kill her if she refused. When the teenager fled to the bush she was raped and became pregnant.

The aid worker said the father eventually realised he had made a mistake and welcomed back the girl and her child.

Ngbaazande’s passion for her work is partly spurred by her own experience as a refugee, having been forced to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo as a teenager.

She said abandoned and stigmatised children were at risk of joining armed groups “because they think there is nothing else they can do in their life”.

“My work is to ensure these children are integrated because the best place for a child to be is in a family,” she added.

“If we don’t intervene and just leave these children … it increases violence. That’s why this work is very important. It creates peace (in) communities and in the country.”

The conflict was triggered by a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar. The two men signed a peace deal in September.

Previous agreements have unravelled, but Ngbaazande says her country has turned a corner.

“I believe 100% we have a permanent peace,” she said. “The challenge now is how to restore total peace to the minds of our vulnerable women and children who have experienced a lot of violence – and give them hope.”

This story was originally reported by Emma Batha and edited by Claire Cozens for the Thomson Reuters Foundation

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1.1k
GIRLS AND WOMEN

How this amazing school quickly improved girls’ attendance

23 May 2017 2:36PM UTC | By: MEGAN IACOBINI DE FAZIO

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Poverty is Sexist: Join the movement

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When Jennifer Thuo talks about her students, it’s with enthusiasm and a wide smile.

“One thing I can say with pride is that I have helped improve the lives of girls,” she says. “I believe they are the future game changers and should be supported in every way.”

Jennifer, the Swahili and history teacher at City Shine Secondary School in Kayole, Nairobi.

Jennifer, the Swahili and history teacher at City Shine Secondary School in Kayole, Nairobi.

Jennifer is the Swahili and history teacher at City Shine Secondary School in Kayole, an informal settlement on the Eastern side of Nairobi. Before she started working in this less affluent part of the city, Jennifer had not given much consideration to the difficulties girls encounter when they start their period.

“In my previous school, the children were from relatively privileged backgrounds and could easily buy disposable pads,” she says. “But when I moved here I realised that most girls cannot afford them, and it’s hard for them to attend school because of that.”

In a 2015 study of over 3000 women in rural Western Kenya, 75% of females reported using commercial pads and 25% used traditional materials such as cloth or items like paper or tissue, which can be unhygienic and could lead to infection. In the same study, one in ten 15-year-old girls reported engaging in sex for money to buy sanitary pads.

Students at work at City Shine Secondary School.

Students at work at City Shine Secondary School.

Lydia Gikandi of City Shine Foundation first realised that menstruation was impeding girls’ education when she noticed girls dropping out of school as they entered puberty.

“Most of them could not afford pads and wouldn’t feel comfortable coming to school,” says Lydia.

This was one of the issues that forced Fridah, an 18-year-old student at City Shine, to miss three or four days of school every month.

“It was really tricky,” she says. “My mum was not able to buy me pads, and I was afraid of coming to school when I was on my period.”

Fridah and her friend Rosemary at school.

Fridah and her friend Rosemary at school.

Seeing so many bright and promising young girls drop out of school inspired City Shine Foundation to partner with AFRIpads, a social business that locally manufactures reusable sanitary pads. Now, every girl receives a packet of pads at the beginning of the school year.

Since then, according to Jennifer, there has been a noticeable decrease in girls dropping out or missing school because of their menstruation. Fridah, too, says that she and her friends who use Afripads rarely miss school because of their period.

AfriPads provides supplies to the students of City Shine Secondary School.

AfriPads provides supplies to the students of City Shine Secondary School.

But both staff and students agree that simply having access to sanitary products is not the ultimate solution. For the girls, the biggest and most positive change has been the shift in attitude towards their bodies and knowing that they should not feel ashamed of them.

“We use the distribution of sanitary pads as an entry point to talk about other issues affecting the girls,” says Lydia. ͞”We talk to them about menstrual hygiene, sexual health, and about their place in the world as women.”

Menstrual health education is now included in the school’s curriculum, and boys also take part in the lessons. Now, Fridah can’t help but laugh at the idea that she should be embarrassed about her period.

Female students in class at City Shine Secondary School.

Female students in class at City Shine Secondary School.

Adrian Dongus, AFRIpads’ Regional Business Development Manager, believes that there is a definite link between access to cost effective, quality menstrual products and girls’ school attendance. Yet, he knows that this is not the silver bullet it is sometimes depicted as. Rather, dignified menstrual health is a precondition to a girl’s education.

“It’s crucial for girls to feel comfortable, secure, and safe,” says Adrian, “adding that it’s less to do with the product itself than it is with the dignity that comes with it.”

Jennifer teaching at the front of a City Shine classroom.

Jennifer at the front of a City Shine classroom.

Breaking the taboo around menstruation is a crucial step in ensuring that girls receive the quality education they deserve, and ultimately lead a healthy and dignified life. Strong role models like Lydia, Jennifer, and other school staff — both male and female – are an important part of achieving this goal.

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Hope, horror and health security: our fight against killer diseases
26
HEALTH

Hope, horror and health security: our fight against killer diseases

5 April 2019 4:34PM UTC | By: AGNES NYAMAYARWO, JAMIE DRUMMOND

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We have been campaigning together for nearly two decades in the fight against AIDS. During this time, we’ve witnessed real progress in the fight against this deadly disease, but great peril remains. Now we need to share with you all an update on the battle, and what you can do to help humanity win in its epic campaign against our most ancient enemy: infectious diseases.

The hope: 4,000 lives saved every day

First, the good news. We wrote this blog on 30 March 2019. We can happily report that about 4,000 fewer people died on that day from AIDS, TB or malaria than would have died on 30 March 1999. In the intervening two decades, activists campaigned together and demanded increased funding, improved research and reduced pricing of key medicines. We pressured for more support for brave nurses and doctors fighting on the frontlines against these diseases. And as a result, we have nearly halved the deaths from AIDS and malaria, an extraordinary achievement, helping to save over 27 million lives. If you have been part of this campaign or are a health worker on the frontlines: THANK YOU. You’re showing this is a fight humanity can win.

The horror: 1,000 women contract HIV every day

Despite all this progress – and grand, global commitments – the scale of the tragedy is still overwhelming. Almost 1,000 adolescent girls and young women will contract HIV today. AIDS is now the leading killer of women under 50 years old. 7,000 people will still die of AIDS, TB or malaria on the day you read this blog.

How are these awful facts not famous? Why is this not on the news every night – or, at least, just once?

Well, we know why – because facts only tell part of the story. These statistics are first and foremost human stories, so this is where one of our voices takes over…

Health hero Agnes – nurse and activist

“My name is Agnes Nyamayarwo, and I am no statistic on a spreadsheet – I’m a Ugandan nurse and an activist.

“In 1992, I tested HIV-positive soon after my husband’s death. As a mother, I didn’t only worry about my health, but also that of my ten children who I knew would become orphans if I died. Moreover, this all came with stigma and discrimination to the whole family. This stigma caused my 16-year-old son to suffer depression and ultimately a mental breakdown. He disappeared a year later, and we have never found him.”

“The most painful part of my journey was when my youngest son, Chris, fell sick aged 5 and was diagnosed with HIV. I felt so helpless and guilty for having passed on the virus to him unknowingly. He sadly died one and a half years after his diagnosis. Watching him suffer with the illness caused horrific pain that I don’t wish any other mother to ever go through.”

“When we gathered at TASO (The AIDS Support Organisation) in Kampala, Uganda, I heard many similarly sad stories from others and their families. TASO provided a forum for us to share and have a sense of belonging as well as an opportunity to access medication. In 2002, Bono, Jamie and other activists visited and heard my story. They were so moved and angered they encouraged me to join their team as they campaigned across the “Heart of America” for increased funding for the fight against AIDS.”

“It’s amazing and beautiful that good people across America, Europe and the world listened to stories like mine, and this brought to life the awful facts of our struggle. Now more than half the people in the world who need the lifesaving drugs have them, thanks to people like you who listened and took action. Thank you! We must now build on that partnership to beat back these killer diseases and deliver health security for all.”

Funding the fight

So what now? One goal must be to dramatically increase funding for the fight. The average government spend per person on health in least developed countries is approximately US$31 a year. In contrast, the UK spends US$3,100 per person, and the USA US$8,000. This disparity is shocking, startling, and simply unacceptable. The amazing health workers fighting at the frontlines – the nurses and doctors in clinics across Africa – need more support. Backing these health heroes is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing too. The global community has a real stake in their struggle – today, diseases can spread faster than ever before. By suppressing their spread in lower income countries, we are helping ensure health security for all.

First and foremost developing countries need to increase their domestic funding for health. At a recent African Union Summit, leaders made more great promises to fund health. These commitments must now be delivered, and underpinned by the latest data and digital innovations. Only then will citizens, partners and patients become empowered citizens – able to track, through open budgets and open contracts, whether funds were really invested, and money and medicines provided.

International partners must also step up the fight, especially for the poorest countries. Two excellent mechanisms to help raise and invest resources are Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Since we started campaigning together against the AIDS emergency and for the creation of the Global Fund, this multi-party mechanism has helped save over 27 million lives. To continue this lifesaving work, the Global Fund now needs a minimum of US$14 billion at its Replenishment Conference in Lyon, France this October. This US$14 billion – and the domestic investments it helps catalyse – would help reduce deaths from these diseases from about 7,000 to 3,500 each day, and reduce infections amongst adolescent girls and young women from about 1,000 to under 400 each day. These figures are approximations because the data quality when it comes to facts about the most marginalised women and girls, is not yet good enough. Such a scale of reduction would, however, help drive a clear trajectory towards near zero new infections and deaths by 2030 – one of the key Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

The Global Fund is an innovative, accountable partnership critical in achieving these Goals. It has now hit a scale where full funding will help save 16 million lives over the next 3 years. Ireland has already committed to increase its funding by at least 50%. We now need similar leadership from the French hosts, Germany, UK, USA and all other countries with a smart conscience.

What we don’t understand is how miserly or short-sighted certain wealthy countries must be, that it has not occurred to them to invest any money in this fight. Take wealthy nations like Austria or Finland – why do these nations currently give nothing at all? We hope that citizens of these countries would be ashamed if they knew – and would demand their governments not embarrass them like this.

Similarly, look at so many of the largest companies and world’s billionaires. A US$1 million contribution can help save nearly 1,000 lives. For a US$1bn you can help save nearly a million. These billionaires and big corporations can’t just hide behind Bill Gates’ generosity – they need to beat him by giving more. We need more of their famed competitive spirit in this fight. They can start by engaging with Product RED  which helps the private sector raise money for the Global Fund, and by following Aliko Dangote’s pledge to give at least 1% a year to health.

There is a real risk that the world may not find the full US$14 billion, it may fall a billion short and let a million people die. Whether we do or don’t raise these funds must be a global priority for us all; a referendum on humanity’s collective compassion and thirst for justice, equality, and cooperation.

So we leave you with an ask. Please become a “factivist” in this fight – a passionate activist armed with compelling facts and actions to share. If you care about gender equality, fight for the Global Fund. If you care about human rights, fight for the Global Fund. If you care about the fight against corruption and for an empowered citizenry, fight for the Global Fund. And when we’ve won this battle, then fight for vaccines, fight for health-workers, and keep on fighting for humanity’s health security. We will keep fighting infectious diseases like AIDS and campaigning for health security for us all, until the day we die.

Add your name to tell world leaders they must join this fight.Then share the action with your family and friends.

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FEB. 13, 2018

 

86
 
HEALTH

New Study Reveals Immunization Could Put an End To Poverty

Vaccines do more than just prevent disease.

It’s a well-known fact that vaccines save lives by preventing illness, but it turns out they can also play a vital role in eliminating poverty.

A recent Harvard study revealed that vaccines will help prevent 24 million people from falling into poverty by 2030.

The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and published on Feb. 5 in Health Affairs, was co-authored by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and various partners. It looked at the impact of vaccines for 10 diseases from health and economic perspectives, in 41 developing countries.

Take Action: Call on Canadian Ministers to Commit to Global Health Security

 

 

 

Unexpected healthcare costs cause approximately 100 million people to experience poverty every year — this kind of impoverishment is one of the main reasons families fall below the poverty line of USD$1.90 per day.

Vaccines work to reduce cases of poverty by eliminating the costs associated with healthcare.

“Vaccines don’t just save lives, they also have a huge economic impact on families, communities and economies,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in a press release.

Read More: This Australian MP With an Autistic Child Just Launched a Great Defense of Vaccines

The hepatitis B vaccine, for instance, will help an estimated 14 million people avoid poverty due to medical costs.

It is anticipated that about 5 million cases of poverty will be prevented thanks to the measles vaccine, with 3 million cases prevented due to the meningitis A vaccine.

Researchers also estimate that the rotavirus vaccine will help avert 242,000 cases of medical impoverishment.

Read More: This Viral Story Is Scaring People Away From the Flu Vaccine — But It’s Fake

For every USD$1 spent on immunization, there is USD$16 saved in healthcare costs, lost wages and lost productivity, according to a 2016 study by Johns Hopkins University.

But the savings aren’t just in money.

The study suggested that administered vaccines would prevent 36 million deaths between 2016 and 2030. The measles vaccine alone is set to prevent 22 million deaths.

Read More: This New Lifesaving Rotavirus Vaccine Will Only Cost $1 Per Dose

“A healthy child is more likely to go to school and become a more productive member of society in later life, while their families can avoid the often crippling healthcare costs that diseases can bring. As this important study shows, this is enough to save millions of people from the misery of extreme poverty. To realise these figures we now need to redouble our efforts to ensure every child, no matter where they’re born, has access to lifesaving vaccines,” Berkley said.

Right now, Gavi has vaccine programs in all countries included in the study, which makes up a population of 1.52 billion in total. The researchers’ results were reached by estimating the number of vaccine-prevented deaths for each disease and assuming monthly household incomes.

Global Citizen campaigns on issues related to global health, knowing that ensuring the health and wellbeing of all is key in putting an end to extreme poverty by 2030. You can take action here.

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29 DE MARZO DE 2019

 

14
 
MEDIO AMBIENTE

Este estudiante universitario decidió dedicar sus vacaciones a la mejor causa

Tiene 19 años y eligió una actividad no convencional.

 

 

Por qué es importante para los Global Citizens
La contaminación plástica en el océano está dañando la vida marina y contribuyendo a la degradación ambiental. Pero muchos jóvenes activistas han tomado cartas en el asunto comenzando a limpiar las playas para eliminar todo tipo de desechos plásticos. La producción de plástico no solo produce más residuos de plástico, sino que también libera gases de efecto invernadero que promueven el cambio climático. Puedes tomar acción sobre este tema aquí.

 

Para la mayoría de los estudiantes universitarios en los Estados Unidos, los planes de vacaciones de primavera se centran en fiestas, comida y el bronceado. Eso es más o menos lo que Joshua Caraway, de 19 años, había planeado para su viaje a Miami, Florida, hasta que vio que Miami Beach estaba llena de basura.

 

Entonces vestido con su traje de baño rosa y una camisa negra, Caraway se puso unos guantes negros y comenzó a trabajar recogiendo basura en lugar de relajarse en la playa.

 

Este estudiante de primer año de la universidad, originario de Georgia, fue visto en medio de su buena acción por el medio de comunicación local WSVN. Y las fotos de él recogiendo voluntariamente basura un sábado por la tarde, pronto se volvieron virales.

 

"Amo a los animales, también amo el medio ambiente", dijo Caraway a CTVNews.ca. "Es por eso que me gusta ayudar".

 

Este estudiante de la Universidad de West Georgia, Caraway estudia biología y pretende convertirse en un especialista en animales exóticos.

Actúa: Firma ahora

 
 
 
1 punto

 



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Había venido con amigos a este popular destino de vacaciones de primavera, pero cuando sus amigos no mostraron ningún interés en sumarse a sus esfuerzos, decidió asumir la misión de limpiar la playa solo. Para cuando se acercaron a entrevistarlo, ya había llenado tres bolsas de plástico.

 

"Le pregunté a mis amigos si lo iban a hacer conmigo, y me dijeron, '¿Limpiar la basura? No, no estoy con eso", contó a WSVN.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 

Happening now: Meet Joshua from Atlanta (@boppay), he’s going through the Miami Beach crowds picking up trash. @MiamiBeachPD’s @PaulAcostaMBPD met with him to thank him for his efforts 👏🏼👏🏼

 
 
 
 

 

Sus esfuerzos también fueron notados por el Departamento de Policía de Miami Beach.

 

"Así que le dije a Joshua: ‘has estado recogiendo basura durante mucho tiempo en lugar de salir y escuchar música’", escribió el oficial de policía Paul Acosta en Twitter. "Pregunté por qué. Él dice que ama a los animales y quiere cuidar su hogar y el nuestro".

 

La publicación original sobre el acto desinteresado de Caraway ha cosechado más de 5,000 "me gusta" en Twitter. Muchos residentes locales también lo elogiaron en los comentarios.

 

"Qué ejemplo tan simple y perfecto de una persona joven liderando el camino para mejorar una situación. Gracias Joshua por ser un joven modelo a seguir durante #SpringBreakMiami. Otra razón por la que no debemos generalizar a nuestra juventud etiquetándolos", tuiteóAlberto M. Carvalho, el superintendente de Miami Dade School.

 

La historia de Caraway incluso fue compartida como un modelo a seguir, por el especialista en animales Mike Holston, y el estudiante se llenó de alegría.

 

Aproximadamente el 40% de los estudiantes universitarios en los Estados Unidos viajan a destinos como Florida y Texas en marzo y abril, según datos de ProjectKnow, que siguió el hashtag #SpringBreak en Instagram para rastrear cuáles son los destinos más populares de las vacaciones de primavera. Entre las 10 principales ciudades se encontraban cuatro de Florida, incluidas Orlando, Ciudad de Panamá y Fort Lauderdale. Como era de esperar, Miami encabezó la lista.

 

Desafortunadamente, esto también significa un aumento de desechos en botellas, latas, plásticos, envoltorios y todo tipo de basura en espacios públicos. En 2016, la ciudad de Miami lanzó la campaña Keep Miami Beach Clean durante la temporada de vacaciones de primavera para evitar que sus hermosas playas se inunden de basura.

 

"Los estudiantes vienen por la belleza de las playas y quieren que sea así todos los años, pero se olvidan de que si la llenan de basura ya no será así", le dijo a USA Today Cecile Carson, vicepresidenta de relaciones en Keep America Beautiful.

 

Si todos siguieran los pasos de Caraway, las playas no solo estarían más limpias, sino que los océanos podrían comenzar a ser lugares más seguros para la vida marina.

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APRIL 16, 2019

 

11
 
HEALTH

Largest Measles Outbreak in Madagascar's History Kills 1,200

Only 58% population — of the minimum 90% required to prevent outbreak — have been immunized so far.


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Eradicating infectious diseases like the measles is key to achieving the United Nations' Global Goal 3 on high-quality health care for all. While many cases are on the rise due to the spread of anti-vaccine campaigns on social media, people who live in poor countries like Madagascar have little access to immunizations to protect their children, who are disproportionately affected. You can take action on this issue here.

More than 115,000 cases of measles have been diagnosed in Madagascar, marking the largest outbreak in the nation’s history. Some 1,200 people have died from the highly contagious disease, the Associated Press reports, and children, especially those under age 15, are disproportionately affected.

And the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that only 1 in 10 cases of measles are being reported, meaning the outbreak is probably much worse than initially reported.

Take Action: Measles Is Making A Dangerous Comeback. What Do You Know About This Preventable Disease?

 

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One mother named Nifaliana Razaijafisoa walked 9 miles holding her 6-month-old son in her arms to receive medical treatment in Madagascar's rural area of Iarintsena. After a nurse confirmed that her child had measles, the stricken mother told the AP, "I'm so scared for him because in the village everyone says it kills babies.”

The African island nation is far from the only location affected. Cases worldwide have spiked 300% so far in 2019, according to the WHO, which claims anti-vaccine campaigns spread on social media have deterred families from immunizing their children. In the United States, measles was considered eradicated in 2000, but cases have again been on the rise. In New York City, 300 people were diagnosed in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn, where many of residents shun technology and the advice of doctors outside their religion — leading the mayor to recently declare a public health emergency. The WHO also reports outbreaks in Thailand, Israel, and Tunisia.

 

 

Preliminary global data on #measles shows that reported cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years. http://bit.ly/2KGGk51  #VaccinesWork

 
 
 
 

 

In Madagascar, the issue is not anti-vaccine campaigns, but that poor families do not have access to the measles vaccine. To prevent outbreaks, at least 90% of the population needs to be immunized, but only 58% have been immunized on Madagascar’s main island.

A WHO doctor says that new cases are slowing down in Madagascar — but it will be hard to eradicate the disease due to the fact that half of all children on the island are malnourished.

“Malnutrition is the bed of measles,” says Dr. Dossou Vincent Sodjinou, the WHO epidemiologist in Madagascar. The son of Razaijafisoa, the mother in Iarintsena, only weighs 11 pounds at 6 months old, which is 64% less than most infants his age in America.

“This is the case for almost all children with measles who have come here,” Lantonirina Rasolofoniaina, a health center volunteer, told the AP.

Read More: New Zealand Offers Free Vaccines Amid the Worst Measles Outbreak in Years

Lalatiana Ravonjisoa, a vegetable vendor, lost her 5-month-old son from the disease.

“I had five children. They all had measles. For the last, I did not go to see the doctor because I did not have money,” she told the AP.

 

Many families in the impoverished nation do not have access to clinics, which are few and far between, and they cannot afford doctors or medicine. Many treatment centers are short-staffed and have few resources to help patients.

“I gave my baby the leftover medications from his big brother to bring down the fever,” Ravonjisoa said.

While the baby’s health at first seemed to be improving, he later developed breathing problems — a typical symptom for the disease, which is spread by coughing, sneezing, infected surfaces, or other close contact. Ravonjisoa was devastated to find his feet cold the following morning. He had died overnight.

Officials are working to contain the spread of the disease; the WHO kicked off its third mass vaccination campaign in Madagascar in March. The organization hopes to reach 7.2 million children aged 6 months to 9 years old.

“But immunization is not the only strategy for the response to this epidemic. We still need resources for care, monitoring, and social mobilization,” Sodjinou, the WHO epidemiologist, told the AP.

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HEALTH

Introducing the most-unlikely public health hero ever: giant rats

23 March 2018 8:18PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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By Nisha Sambamurty 

Yes, you read that right: rats. To most people, the sight of a giant rat is disgusting. But for many scientists, these rats are extremely helpful.

One in four people are currently living with latent tuberculosis, according to the WHO. That’s almost 2 billion people worldwide. Tuberculosis is a leading cause of death by infectious disease, and existing systems that work to detect it lack accuracy, time efficiency, and cost efficiency. Because of this, people in regions like East Africa often don’t undergo screening to detect the disease—due to lack of awareness or money—and many cases go undetected. In places like jails, where TB is estimated to be up to 100 times more prevalent, this issue is much worse.

Enter the super-rat!

TB-Day_BLOG_v4_1200-x-600.pngAfrican rats are being trained by a Belgium nongovernmental organization to detect TB within minutes in prisons in Tanzania and Mozambique!

How, you ask?

Here’s where it gets really interesting. When these rats reach four weeks of age, they begin a rigorous training process. They are introduced to different stimuli and are trained to interact with humans. They are taught to recognize the presence of TB in human mucus. (And you thought the rats were gross!)

The rats are presented with ten samples of this mucus, or sputum, and when they detect the ones with TB, they hover over them for three seconds to let the scientist know what they have smelled and are then rewarded when they succeed. How AMAZING is that?!

Perhaps even more incredible is their success rate and the speed at which they can detect TB. These rats can detect tuberculosis with almost 100 percent accuracy. The rats have proved to be incredibly cost-effective. According to the Belgian charity, it takes four days for a lab technician to screen 100 samples. Yet once the rats are trained, they can screen around 100 samples in just 20 minutes.

This new method of screening for TB has HUGE implications for developing countries that are heavily burdened by tuberculosis. With funding from USAID(United States Aid in International Development), APOPO plans to provide full coverage in Tanzania’s TB hotspots.

Thank you, giant rats! We’ll try to think nicer thoughts if we see you around.

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CULTURE

5 things we discovered about Bill Gates from his Reddit AMA

February 27 2019 | By: ROBYN DETORO

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Over the last decade, Bill Gates has transformed himself into an icon of philanthropy as the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Recently, he took a spot in the virtual hot seat and turned the mic over to the Reddit community for an in-depth Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.

Here are five of the most intriguing questions and responses:

What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t? — Swcomisac

thisisbillgates: The goal of the Foundation is that all kids grow up healthy – no matter where they are born. That means getting rid of malaria and many of the other diseases that affect poor countries. It should be achievable in my lifetime.


It’s well known you are an avid reader – what are a few books that come to your mind when asked to recommend reading materials for anyone that can have a true impact on their life – either professionally or personally? — TheQueenIsASpy

thisisbillgates: I read a lot of non-fiction. There are so many great book. I do reviews on gatesnotes.com. I am reading Hacking Darwin now – about gene editing getting very popular and what policies should control the usage. I love books that explain things like Smil’s Energy and Civilization or all of Pinker’s books. Factfulness by the Roslings is very readable – a great place to start to get a framework for the progress of humanity.


What’s a piece of technology that’s theoretical now that you wish you could make possible immediately? — Ironsheik84

thisisbillgates: However if I had one wish to make a new technology it would be a solution to malnutrition. Almost half the kids in poor countries grow up without their body or brain developing fully so they miss most of their potential. Second would be an HIV vaccine.


If you could go back in time and give your younger-self advice what would you say? — ImStarks

thisisbillgates: I was overly intense and socially inept. I would try and make myself more self-aware without getting rid of the focus and desire to learn.


I work in health-care in South Africa and I just want to say thank you for the work that your foundation has been doing for HIV research here. My question is how do I feel like I’m doing enough? With all the pain and suffering that I see every day, it’s hard to feel like I am actually making a difference in the grand scheme of things. How do you deal with feeling like it’s a never-ending struggle to actually make a difference and help people? — 511234

thisisbillgates: Your point is a great one. As soon as you get engaged in solving problems you have to face how tough things are. You need to focus on how much you can improve things and feel good about that. We need more people to visit Africa to see the progress but also to see how much needs to be done. Nothing is as good as meeting people who have to live with malaria or HIV or see their children die. People like yourself who work on the front lines deserve immense credit. Over time the deaths and suffering will go down but I am sure some days that is hard to see.


BONUS:

Hello, how’s your day going and what have you been watching on Netflix and/or TV right now? — ABrownForestShark

thisisbillgates: Melinda and I watch things like Silicon Valley, This is Us, A Million Little Things. I watched The Americans with my son (too violent for Melinda). I watched Narcos by myself. Billions, Lie to Me, Friday Night Lights, American Vandal, Black Mirror. There are so many good shows — people tell me about them but I can’t watch them all!

Want to hear more from Bill? Check out the annual letterpenned by him and Melinda Gates.

*Questions and answers have been shortened for clarity. Image via Flickr

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